Does acupuncture hurt?
No, not really. Most people would compare the sensation of the needles to a slight mosquito bite, if they feel it at all. The needles are extremely thin and flexible—about the width of a dog’s whisker.
After the initial insertion, we gently insert them a little deeper to create a noticeable nerve sensation. It’s an interesting sensation and difficult to describe to someone who’s never experienced it. Like a good massage, it can be a very pleasant “ache” or a feeling of “opening” as muscles relax.
Acupuncturists are highly trained and skilled in manipulating the needles to produce profound effects with minimal discomfort. We see patients all the time who have put off trying acupuncture for years because they were nervous about needles, only to find out there was nothing to it. Most keep coming back for more!
Is acupuncture safe?
Yes, acupuncture is very safe, because the needles are individually packaged, pre-sterilized, and disposable. Side effects are minimal, and acupuncturists are highly trained to avoid causing injuries.
Do I have to believe in acupuncture for it to work? Does it always work?
Acupuncture works whether someone believes in it or not, although approaching your treatment with a positive attitude will only help. Acupuncture stimulates real physiological changes, and good results are seen in most cases.
For best clinical results, it’s important that patients comply with their treatment schedules. Some chronic conditions can take a few treatments before we start to see a difference, although most patients experience significant relief quickly.
What Can I Expect On My First Visit?
On your first office visit, we’ll sit down to talk about the specific concerns that brought you in, as well as your general health and well-being, and we’ll answer any questions you might have. We use the traditional Chinese methods of diagnosis, closely examining the different qualities of your pulse, and looking at other signs, such as the appearance of your tongue.
We then formulate a treatment plan for you. The intake and first treatment together usually last about an hour. Your subsequent visits will be a little shorter—we’re respectful of your time and aim to have you out in 45 minutes. We’ll make a short review of your progress followed by an acupuncture treatment.
How often do I need to come in for treatments?
Acupuncture treatments are usually given once or twice per week to start. As we see improvement that becomes every 2-3 weeks or more. Patients are usually able to eventually tell what kind of frequency works well for them. If a condition is acute, we may recommend treatments two or three times per week until it starts to come under control. Ultimately each patient’s treatment plan is unique and depends upon the condition and general level of health.
Many patients also find that periodic “tune-ups”—every few weeks to once per season—are helpful in maintaining health and well-being. We believe that if everyone received periodic acupuncture, the world would be a much happier place. The decision to pursue treatment, though, is always in the hands of the patient, without any pressure.
Do I need to undress to receive acupuncture?
Both for reasons of time and comfort, we try to avoid having patients undress. Most points we use are below the elbows and knees, so please wear clothes that can be pushed or rolled-up easily. For women, a loose tank-top is helpful for working on the back and shoulders.
How does acupuncture work?
Chinese medicine theorizes that the body’s energy (Qi, pronounced “Chee”) circulates through a network of meridians, each of which corresponds to an organ system, such as the Liver or Kidney. Imbalances within an organ system or meridian can manifest as physical disease or even mental and emotional problems like depression and anxiety. Acupuncture aims to correct these imbalances by stimulating points along the meridians.
Western science has demonstrated that acupuncture points are areas of increased electrical sensitivity, which when stimulated signal the brain via the nervous system to release various biochemicals. These include endorphins, the body’s natural pain-killers, and various neurotransmitters that regulate mood and energy levels. The body can become profoundly relaxed, leading to improved circulation, decreased inflammation, and significant relief of pain.